While much of the country dreams of a white Christmas with Santa bringing presents on his sleigh on Christmas Eve, in Hawaii, Santa often arrives on a surfboard or outrigger canoe. The island of Oahu is full of holiday events from Thanksgiving throughout the month of December. Here are 10 reasons that make Christmas in the islands one-of-a-kind.
- Honolulu City Lights Opening Night, December 3: Thousands of families and visitors are expected to attend this beloved island tradition, presented each year by the City and County of Honolulu and the Friends of Honolulu City Lights. The opening night festivities mark the start of the holiday season, kicking off a month long celebration of family-friendly activities and merry displays on the Frank F. Fasi Civic Center Grounds. Mayor Kirk Caldwell will lead the official tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m., featuring Billy V as emcee and a special performance by the Kamehameha Elementary School Children’s Choir, conducted by Lynell Bright. University of Hawaii head football coach Nick Rolovich, joined by students from Daniel K. Inouye Elementary School, will ceremoniously illuminate the city’s 55-foot holiday tree at 6:30 p.m., triggering the corridor of lights and displays down King and Punchbowl streets. One of the many highlights of the evening is the Public Workers’ Electric Light Parade, which celebrates its 26th year as part of Honolulu City Lights. A dazzling procession of festooned city vehicles and school marching bands will travel from Chinatown through King Street, led by the dancing “City Lights,” the event’s crowd-favorite mascot which debuted last year. Shannon Scott and Olena Heu return as parade hosts. The opening night also includes a free, star-studded holiday concert near the Sky Gate with musical entertainment by Halau Hula Olana, Blayne Asing, Mailani Makainai, and Sean Naauao. Themed displays and lights will adorn the grounds surrounding Honolulu Hale, and the courtyard will be unveiled, featuring the beautiful city trees and community wreath exhibits. The public is encouraged to come early to take advantage of the free parking that’s available in the city’s municipal lot, with entry from the left lane of Beretania Street just past Alapai Street. http://www.honolulucitylights.org/
- Pearl Harbor 75th Anniversary on December 7. The National Park Service and the United States Navy will co-host the 75th commemoration of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Events taking place at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center will be held at 1 Arizona Memorial Place. Event details: http://pearlharbor75thanniversary.com/full-schedule-of-events/
- Garth Brooks Salutes Pearl Harbot with Trisha Yearwood. Garth and Trisha will be playing unplugged in support of the 75th Commemoration of the Attack on Pearl Harbor. The new concerts will be December 8th and 9th at 8:00 PM at the Blaisdell Arena. The two previously announced concerts are now sold out. Brooks will be performing for Pacific Historic Parks which will be dispersing 100 percent of the net proceeds from the performances to four historic organizations with the mission of preserving the legacy of Pearl Harbor: WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument (USS Arizona Memorial), Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, and Battleship Missouri Memorial.The back-to-back concerts are the culmination of a week-long schedule of events commemorating the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, other military bases, and civilian areas on the Island of Oahu, which led directly to our country's entry into WWII.
- Vans Triple Crown of Surfing: An IMAX theatre-like experience, beach goers can witness the ground-shaking action from close proximity and watch as surfers make history on heaving, hollow waves. This event draws thousands to the North Shore, but keep in mind that the best seat in the house is often YOUR house, as the WSL delivers a top notch live broadcast complete with heat analyzers, athlete interviews, surf trivia, post shows and more. Pipeline is located within Ehukai Beach Park and offers public restrooms, showers and very limited parking. It is best to bike or walk into the park area. http://www.vanstriplecrownofsurfing.com/
- Santa Paddles in by Canoe on December 10: Greet Santa on the beach as he arrives on his canoe. No reindeers needed for this Hawaiian Santa! Santa will be available for a free picture taking session in the lobby. Try to make it a little early since he arrives right at 9am(image from gohawaii.com)
- Shopping December 10: 2nd Annual Mele Kalikimaka MarketplaceSaturday, December 10, 10am-9pm and Sunday, December 11, 10am-5pm.Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, 777 Ward Ave., Honolulu, HI 96814Admission tickets are $4 for adults, $3 seniors 60+, students, military (ID required for all), and children 12 years and under free with paid adult.A one-stop local holiday shop catering to visitors and residents who are looking for holiday gifts and family activities. For more information, visit www.MeleKalikimakaMarketplace.com
- 44th Annual Honolulu Marathon December 11: 26 miles, 385 yards or 42.195 kilometers - The Honolulu Marathon's scenic course includes spectacular ocean views alongside world-famous Waikiki Beach, and Diamond Head and Koko Head volcanic craters. The terrain is level except for short uphill grades around Diamond Head. At the starting line is Ala Moana Beach Park where the Honolulu Marathon starts on Ala Moana Blvd, 5 a.m. finishing at Kapiolani Park in Waikiki.
- December 18 - Jingle Rock Fun Run sponsored by Make-A-Wish Foundation/Boca Hawaii kicks off at 6:00 p.m. The event expected to have 3,000 runners. It will start at the State Capitol on Punchbowl St., to Beretania St., ewa bound direction, u turn to King St at Aala Park St., onto King St., left onto Ward Ave., left onto Beretania St., to end at Punchbowl St. Punchbowl St will be closed at 4-10:00 p.m. for this event also. For more information, visit their website: http://www.hawaii.wish.org.
- More Shopping: Save Big on Shopping: Christmas shopping can put a serious dent in your wallet, but with a four percent sales tax statewide, you’ll save big when stocking up on gifts in Hawaii. From national retailers like Macy’s or Prada to small local boutique shops, there’s something to satisfy every budget and style. Give your friends and family something different with unique Hawaii gifts like a handmade ukulele or a gift basket filled with Mauna Loa macadamia nuts and Waialua Estate chocolates.
- A Golden Sunny Christmas: Ditch the snow shovel for a sand shovel and build a sandman on the beautiful golden sand beaches of Hawaii. While the cold winter weather typically keeps folks across the country confined indoors, with a year-round warm climate in the Hawaiian Islands you can enjoy the holidays’ outdoors.
For more events visit gohawaii.com